"Game of Thrones" episodes have screened in movie theaters before. But according to the show's producers, the final season of the series -- set to wrap on HBO next year -- was actually envisioned to be made up entirely of feature-length films.

In a lengthy cover story in Entertainment Weekly, "Thrones" creators Dan Weiss and David Benioff reflected on their original plans for the show's swan song. As they explained to EW, when they first pitched the show to HBO, they already knew that the series finale would be capped with an epic battle scene, even larger and more complex than season six's Battle of the Bastards.

As early as season three, Weiss and Benioff began to realize that the scope for this battle -- which had originally been reported to have taken 55 nights to shoot, but in reality took more than twice that number -- was simply impossible to film, even with the show's already exceedingly-high $5 million per episode budget. That led the duo to come up with the idea to make season eight six hours long, and split it into three film installments to be released in theaters, reasoning that they'd need more time and more money to pull off their grand vision than series television would allow.

HBO ultimately passed on that plan, but promised Benioff and Weiss that they would be provided with the resources to make season eight “a summer tentpole-size spectacle.” That translated into a longer than usual shoot, and each of the final season's episodes clocking in at a cost of more than $15 million.

The results will certainly be worth the wait, if the first photo and plot teases from the new installments are any indication. Now, we just have to wait for winter -- and 2019 -- to arrive.

"Game of Thrones" season eight will premiere on HBO sometime in early 2019.

[via: Entertainment Weekly]